In agriculture, search for biopolymer derived materials are in high demand to replace the synthetic agrochemicals. In the present investigation, the efficacy of Cu-chitosan nanoparticles (NPs) to boost defense responses against Curvularia leaf spot (CLS) disease of maize and plant growth promotry activity were evaluated. Cu-chitosan NPs treated plants showed significant defense response through higher activities of antioxidant (superoxide dismutase and peroxidase) and defense enzymes (polyphenol oxidase and phenylalanine ammonia-lyase). Significant control of CLS disease of maize was recorded at 0.04 to 0.16% of Cu-chitosan NPs treatments in pot and 0.12 to 0.16% of NPs treatments in field condition. Further, NPs treatments exhibited growth promotry effect in terms of plant height, stem diameter, root length, root number and chlorophyll content in pot experiments. In field experiment, plant height, ear length, ear weight/plot, grain yield/plot and 100 grain weight were enhanced in NPs treatments. Disease control and enhancement of plant growth was further enlightened through Cu release profile of Cu-chitosan NPs. This is an important development in agriculture nanomaterial research where biodegradable Cu-chitosan NPs are better compatible with biological control as NPs "mimic" the natural elicitation of the plant defense and antioxidant system for disease protection and sustainable growth.
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